13:05 Monday 17 February 2014

Prime Minister will not honour nuclear test vets

Written byROB SMYTH

Archie Ross - nuclear test veteran Archie Ross - nuclear test veteran

THE Prime Minister has revealed he will not ‘overturn the policy of successive governments’ with regards to the nation’s nuclear test veterans.

David Cameron said it would be ‘divisive’ to recognise the 22,000 vets, including ex-RAF man Archie Ross, of Oak Close, Castle Gresley, who saw Britain’s tests in the 1950s and 1960s.

The UK’s top politician became embroiled in a campaign for justice by the veterans and their families after they petitioned him to speak out about their plight.

In a letter to Basildon MP John Baron, who campaigns on behalf of the veterans, Mr Cameron said he would not overturn the ‘policy of successive governments’ who have all ignored the veterans’ plight.

He said: “As I am sure you can appreciate, it would be divisive to offer nuclear test veterans this level of recognition for being involved in this project, when those who have undertaken other specialist duties would not be receiving the same.

“I can therefore only reiterate that I will not be making an oral statement on this subject to the House.”

However, Mr Cameron is scheduled to arrange a meeting with key campaigners to discuss the issue in the future.

Mr Ross said: “We are not going to let go until someone pays for what has happened to the thousands of people involved.

“We now have, and always have had, nothing to lose — all we want is the Government to stand up and take responsibility for the pain and suffering that people have endured.”

In 2006, one thousand veterans attempted to sue the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Nine of these took their cases to the Supreme Court last year, but lost their bid for damages.

The MoD argued that too much time had passed since the tests for the case to be allowed to go to court.

A succession of governments, both Tory and Labour, have denied there was anything wrong with the procedures.

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